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Why, Hazel, why? – Deadline

Warning: This interview contains spoilers for the HBO Max’s Season 1 finale Made for love

When your crooked tech mogul husband puts a chip in your brain to spy on you – and also monitors your orgasms – yeah, it’s time to move on.

In a shocking last-minute twist, Cristin Milioti’s Hazel Green has decided to stick with her crazy visionary and megalomaniac husband Byron Gogol, played by Billy Magnussen, even though we’ve seen her sign divorce papers and insist on her independence. After Byron invaded his personal space to put it mildly, and used it as his advanced technological experiment, Hazel was easily done with him. That is until Byron outclasses her in an effort to win her back: he revealed to Hazel that her sex doll-worshiping father Herbert, ironically played by Ray Romano, had cancer. Herbert had a better chance of living by moving to Byron’s “Hub” – his virtual castle and Hazel’s prison. To save her father, Hazel had no choice but to take back Byron’s hand.

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Why, Hazel, why?

Designed for love EP Christina Lee explains it all:

That twist we have left in regards to Hazel’s return to Byron – was it in the works from the start or did you catch it midway through production?

From left to right, Alissa Nutting, Caleb Foote and Christina Lee.
HBO Max

Christina Lee: Once (Designed for love author, EP and co-creator) Alissa (Nutting) and I took over the reins of the show, it was our only end. There are these two central relationships in this story. Obviously, Hazel and Byron, who is her powerful husband she’s trying to break free from, and then there’s also Hazel and Herbert, whom she basically ran away from years ago. Ultimately, we tell this bittersweet father-daughter story. We see her on this journey in an attempt to disconnect from Byron where she ultimately reunites with her father. And then in the end, she chooses her father over her own freedom, and that’s an ending we really wanted.

Then there is this final intriguing shot of Hazel holding Byron’s hand at the end. Please explain.
Lee: You know, it was so spontaneous the day we shot it. We knew we wanted this long shot of them walking home, and we wanted the audience to have that sinking feeling, as we watch them step into what’s to come. And you know, I think maybe it was Cristin (Milioti) who had the idea of ​​what would happen if I took his hand? And we all had chills when we heard that, and we were like “I don’t know, but let’s try it”. And we did in the moment, and something about it just felt really weird and yet appropriate, and to me, that makes me wanting more answers. So we felt it was a great ending as to what that means? What’s his plan?

Is Byron who he claims to be, which is Greg Benson? Is this a guy who has always shied away from his working class roots? Or is he delusional? We know Byron can be duplicity.
Lee: We certainly have an answer for that, but I think the audience questioning whether they are telling the truth or whether they are lying is exciting to us. And you never know when you’re dealing with a narcissist or a sociopath, or both, especially when someone is telling the truth. So that’s something that, if we’re this lucky to get a season two, we want to explore in depth.

While Designed for love is based on Alissa Nutting’s novel, what were the challenges? I understand that some characters, like Jasper, who were in the novel have given up and may resurface in season 2. That said, Byron reminds me so much of Elon Musk.

From left to right, Elon Musk with his ex-wife Talulah Riley
AP

Lee: I admit we watched a lot of Elon Musk videos, especially a video with him and his ex-wife. [Talulah Riley]. It was interesting for us. Obviously Byron isn’t modeled after Elon Musk, but there are a few influences there given that they’re both technicians. In adapting the show from the book, one of the things that was so great about this process was being able to work so closely with the writer, the author, and we were real teammates to create this show together. I think the book is largely Hazel’s internal journey, and we wondered how to show that on screen? And so, we dropped a character in the first season because we wanted to stay focused on Hazel and the aftermath of what happened after her escape, but I think the challenges were that there were so many themes. that we wanted to explore. We wonder how to do all of this and how to set the tone? Because we wanted to talk about divorce, the decoupling process when there’s this huge power imbalance, then we talked a lot about technology and our relationship to technology as a shortcut to human connection and intimacy. Then, of course, there is a very important father-daughter story of reconnecting with a estranged father and sort of unearthing it all as an unspoken shared heartbreak and pain. So there were a lot of things we wanted to talk about, and there’s more and more of that, but then we were like tonic, where do we want to sit? We’re both big fans of science fiction, and there were two things we wanted our show to be different, and one is that we wanted to approach this through a female lens. So while the show is high-design with all the sci-fi, I mean, it’s just a very old-fashioned story of a woman trying to break free from toxic masculinity. It’s something we wanted to talk about, and on top of that there’s a lot of darkness in sci-fi, especially like tech horror type shows, and we’re both comedy writers in it. ‘soul. So, we wanted to present this show where there are times when you’re scared of what’s going to happen to Hazel and it’s painful, but we also wanted to keep it light, and we addressed that in both the storytelling and the way we shot it. .

From left to right: Dan Bakkedahl as Herringbone and Noma Dumezweni as Fiffany.
HBO Max

What’s next for Fiffany and Herringbone? Both are stuck in virtual realities.
Lee: So Fiffany and Herringbone as long as they worked for Byron, whenever there was someone they needed to “get rid of” without murder, they would put them in the Pasture Cube. This is what it means to graze them at the Hub. It means put them in this cube. But it’s the only cube that Fiffany and Herringbone have never been in, I don’t know how it works, and now they’re both there. So in season 2 there is the question: what is in this grazing cube? Who is here? How will they get out, if they do, what if and when Fiffany finds out that Herringbone is the reason she’s there in the first place?

Let’s go back to this video of Musk and his wife and how inspiring it was on the show.
Lee: It’s on YouTube. You know, all I can say is that I watched it a few times and it had an influence on episode 3. What I always find interesting in all the videos or in all the interviews, it’s when two people seem to be going through different realities, but sitting right next to each other, and we’ve seen it in this interview and we’ve seen it in other things as well. But it’s always illuminating for us when we witness something like that, especially when the person sitting right next to them doesn’t know it.

Following a production disruption due to the pandemic lockdown, what changes have been made to the series?
Lee: A lot of our feelings about what was going on on the show had changed because we were going through a lot. The whole Byron thing is you can live in this simulated life and it’s just as good, if not better. It’s more efficient. So, you know, there is no need for the real thing, right? If you haven’t experienced what life really feels like, you might not know it. Maybe it sounds better, but now, after a year spent in our golden prisons and not being able to have a real human connection, it has all become something much stronger for us. So that changed, the way we approached it on the show. Some of the flashbacks, for example, the flashback from episode 7 where she tells Byron that she wants to go to a concert. You know, that’s something I’m missing right now. I miss seeing live shows. And the fact that he took her, he brought the band, but it was a simulated concert experience. And what he didn’t understand was that she just wanted to have the experience of being with people, with strangers, and having a common experience together. We miss it so much right now. And, so, that was a particular scene that came out of how we felt (during the pandemic lockdown).

HBO Max

Is there anything else you can tease about Season 2? Obviously, we’ll see what happens between Byron and Hazel and their new life, and if Herbert health improves.
Lee: I think there are questions, especially with Byron about how he is as he is. People were wondering: why doesn’t he know who Willy Wonka is? Like, who is this guy? Is Greg Benson’s thing real? And I’ll say that’s something we want to tackle in Season 2, in between everything else, but it’s one of the things for sure.

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